Industry Specific Tips

The hospitality industry is one of the most robust industries in San Antonio. The city boasts over 40,000 hotel rooms and hosts as many as 32 million visitors a year. Waste collection services for hotels can be an expensive, yet necessary operating expense. Did you know that in most cases improving hotel reuse and recycling programs could help reduce waste disposal costs and help people in need? Read more about the types of material thrown out in the hospitality industry and how to take advantage of existing opportunities to reduce waste and save on operation costs.

Hotel waste is unique. The amounts and types of waste can vary depending on the season and business. However, the most abundant material thrown out in large hotels is food, making up about forty-five percent of all hotel waste. The next most regularly thrown away material is paper at about thirty-five percent. Additionally, small amounts of glass and plastic are also found in hotel garbage.[i]

 

 

[i] SWMD staff waste assessments and State of California Commercial Waste Characterization Study (2006)

Single Stream recycling

Single stream recycling is the most convenient recycling solution for collecting materials such as, plastic bottles, metal cans, or glass. With single stream recycling, all recyclables are collected together, for example, glass and plastic bottles are collected all in one bin. This makes it easier to recycle for guests and more convenient for hotel staff to collect.

Source - separated recycling

Source - separated recycling involves separating recyclables by type at the location in which they are being generated, such as in the administration office. This is typically only worthwhile if you have large amounts of one specific material, such as, paper and cardboard that need to be collected clean. If recovered clean and dry, some recyclables such as cardboard and paper can be sold back to manufacturers for cash.

Opportunities to reduce food waste

Although, some food waste is unavoidable, there are some proactive measures you can take at your hotel to reduce your food waste and benefit your community. Here are a few options to help with food waste reduction and donation.

Reduce:

When catering events:

  • Make food waste reduction and diversion a part of your planning and discuss methods to reduce waste with your clients.
  • Support sustainability initiatives and donating surplus food to charitable organizations.
  • Use reusable plates and utensils when possible.
  • Offer a vegetarian alternative to minimize the waste of meat. Meat production is more expensive, financially and environmentally than vegetable production.
  • Avoid packaging such as plastic bags, wrappers, and foil that cannot be recycled; instead use reusable or compostable food containers.

Tips for proper food preparation and storage:

  • Whenever possible, prepare foods to order.
  • Adjust the size of meal portions if you find that they are frequently unfinished.
  • Prevent unnecessary dehydration and spoilage by storing raw vegetables and other perishables in reusable airtight containers.

Opportunities to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The EPA emphasis is to reduce, reuse, and then recycle as a strategy for sustainable materials management. Here are a few tips to help reduce paper waste and improve hotel operations with industry best practices.

Administration Offices:

  • Set printer defaults to print and copy on both sides.
  • Reduce accidental misprints by posting instructions properly loading special paper.
  • Encourage your employees to opt for the paperless option when appropriate such as direct deposit and electronic tax return filing.
  • Use electronic data storage instead of hard copy files.
  • Use e-mail and scan faxing to exchange documents instead of printing or faxing.
  • Replace trash bins with recycling bins where paper waste is generated.
  • Ask: “Do I really need to print this document?”

Housekeeping and Operations:

  • Use washable hats and aprons for kitchen staff.
  • Use torn or stained linens as cleaning rags.
  • Install chemical dispensing stations and use refillable pump spray bottles instead of aerosol cans.
  • Instruct housekeeping to leave partially used items for the duration of the guest’s stay.
  • Clean and reuse dust-mop heads.

Guest Rooms:

  • Offer daily newspaper on request only.
  • Encourage guests to hang their towels back on the rack for reuse and offer a “no clean” option for not replacing bed linen and towels if they want to decline service for the day.
  • Post fact cards in guest rooms to inform guests of the environmental benefits of reusing towels and linen.
  • Install refillable shampoo and soap dispensers in the bathrooms.
  • Replace disposable items (such as cups) with reusable cups.

Opportunities to Repurpose

Many organizations such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, the Haven for Hope, group homes and others can reuse and repurpose worn out or “out of style items” that are still usable. Usable goods may include blankets, mattresses, glassware, sheets, towels, furniture, lamps, draperies, uniforms, or even some left over bottled soaps and shampoos. Check out our Solution Station for more donation centers.

  • Clean coolers and freezers regularly to ensure that food has not expired or fallen behind shelves.
  • Train employees to make more efficient knife cuts to use more of the food being prepared.

Opportunities to Donate

After food waste reduction, feeding hungry people and animals are the next two most preferred options. Consider connecting with local charitable organizations to donate surplus untouched prepared meals to people or donate unused food or scraps to farms. Be sure to check out the legal basics of feeding food scraps to animals from the EPA.

Are you worried about liability from donating your food to food banks? In 1996, The U.S. Congress passed the “Good Samaritan Food Act” to encourage the donation of food towards food banks and shelters while protecting donating organizations from liability.

With over 35,000 businesses in San Antonio, there are great opportunities for waste reduction, reuse and recycling. Learn more about the types of waste business offices are throwing away and how to take advantage of existing opportunities to reduce, reuse, and recycle in the office.

As you might expect, paper (copy paper, cardboard, periodicals, etc.) is the most abundant material being thrown away in business offices, making up 53% of all office waste. There is also a significant amount of recyclable plastic (12%). If you are able to implement a recycling program, you could potentially divert two-thirds of your waste stream from landfills. Organic material makes up another 23% of all waste in the office. If you reduce food waste while recycling, 88% of your waste stream could be diverted and possibly save you some money on disposal fees and administrative expenses!

Single stream recycling

Single-stream recycling is the most practical and convenient solution for recycling in most office buildings. With single-stream recycling, all recyclables are collected together, for example, newspapers and plastic bottles can be collected all in one bin. This makes it easier to recycle, which will boost participation in the program.

If recovered clean and dry, recyclables such as cardboard, office paper, and plastic can be sold to manufacturers for cash. This allows waste collection providers in San Antonio to offer recycling services at a lower rate than landfilling.

Source-separated recycling

Source-separated recycling involves separating each material type at the source (e.g. your office building). This is typically only viable if you have large amounts of one specific material. Because the material does not need to be sorted out from other recyclables, waste collection companies will sometimes collect it at little or no cost, and in some cases (e.g. if it is already baled) may pay you for it. There are benefits to both single-stream and source-separated recycling, ask your collection company about what services best fit your needs.

What about shredded paper? Did you know that shredded paper is also recyclable? Use our Solution Station to find a recycler that recycles shredded content. Here is some of the service options paper shredding companies’ offer to businesses:

  • Offsite shredding
  • Onsite shredding
  • One-time shredding

Recycling is a great way to handle waste.

However, it is first preferred to reduce, reuse, and then recycle, according to the EPA. Follow these tips to reduce and reuse office waste to potentially save money on operation and disposal expenses.

Opportunities to reduce and reuse paper in the office:

Reduce:

  • Set printer defaults to print and copy on both sides.
  • Reduce accidental misprints by posting instructions properly loading special paper.
  • Encourage your employees to opt for the paperless option when appropriate such as direct deposit and electronic tax return filing.
  • Use electronic data storage instead of hard copy files.
  • When copying, reduce size to fit two pages of a report, book or periodical on one standard-size sheet.
  • Use e-mail and scan faxing to exchange documents instead of printing or faxing.
  • Replace trash bins with recycling bins where paper waste is generated.
  • Ask: Do I really need to print this document?

Reuse:

  • Reuse paper printed on one side for internal memos, draft documents, or scratch pads.
  • Use your used paper as fax paper.
  • Reuse internal envelopes as many times possible.
  • Use old letterheads for internal documents.

Opportunities to reduce plastic waste in the office:

Here are some ways to help eliminate plastic waste in the office:

  • Install a sustainable water dispenser system to save money on bottled water costs.
  • Ask your suppliers to take back or minimize packaging on supply shipments.
  • Give all employees a refillable bottle and incentives for using reusable bottles.
  • Accompany plastic reduction efforts with awareness about the harmful effects of plastic water bottles to the environment and learn more about effects of plastic on marine life on the EPA website.
  • Consider implementing a companywide ban/limitation on single use water bottles.

The top three wastes in the food industry are organics (food), cardboard, and plastics.

Did you know there are over 4,000 restaurants and eateries in San Antonio? That is a lot of delicious foods! There are also a lot of opportunities for waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and finally composting.

Read more about the types of waste restaurants are throwing out and how to take advantage of the existing opportunities to reduce waste and possibly even save a little money on disposal expenses.

As you might expect, food is the most abundant material being thrown out in restaurants, making up to 53% of all restaurants waste. What you might not realize is that cardboard is also regularly thrown away, almost in the same amounts (between 34 and 49 percent), followed by a small amount of plastic materials.

Composting Food Waste

Donating unused and unspoiled food (for hungry people or animals) is the best option when it comes to food, but for everything that's left over, composting is the most common solution. Some things you'll want to consider when designing a composting program include:

  • Weight - No one wants their employees to get injured emptying a heavy container, so small containers or containers with wheels are recommended.
  • Smell and pests - If food waste is stored outdoors awaiting collection, the heat can make those containers unpleasant in short order and attract pests. Frequent collection coupled with well-sealed external containers is recommended. If space is available, you can store the material inside in a climate controlled environment until they are ready to be collected by your hauler (just be sure you remain compliant with any applicable health codes). Regularly cleaning your containers will also help keep odors and pests in check.
  • Contaminants – Even more so than with recycling materials like paper and plastic, contaminants in organic waste can create major headaches for composters. Be sure to talk with your hauler about what can go in your compost bins and what kind of container liners are acceptable, then make sure employees follow the program.

Recycling Cardboard

Cardboard takes up a lot of space in your dumpster and it is easy to keep clean and separated from other wastes, just the way recyclers want it! Implement a recycling plan to collect cardboard at your business to discover potential savings and the opportunity for additional space in your dumpster.

The most common ways to recycle cardboard are loose (in a recycling dumpster) and baled. If your restaurant does not share garbage collection with any other businesses, loose collection is probably most practical. However, if you share collection services with other businesses, and can manage the cost of a baler, collection companies will often collect clean baled cardboard for free; Or in some cases, pay you a small amount per bale of cardboard.

Reduce:

There a variety of actions to take that address food and food related waste. Here are a few options.

When catering events:

  • Make food waste reduction and diversion a part of your planning and discuss methods to reduce waste with your clients.
  • Suggest venues that support sustainability initiatives and donating surplus food to charitable organizations.
  • Use reusable plates and utensils when possible.
  • Offer a vegetarian alternative to minimize the waste of meat.
  • Avoid packaging such as plastic bags, wrappers, and foil that can’t be recycled; instead use reusable or compostable food containers.

Tips for proper food preparation and storage:

  • Whenever possible, prepare foods to order.
  • Store raw vegetables and other perishables in reusable airtight containers to prevent unnecessary dehydration and spoilage.
  • Adjust the size of meal portions if you find that they are frequently unfinished.
  • Clean coolers and freezers regularly to ensure that food has not fallen behind shelving.
  • Train employees to make more efficient knife cuts to use more of the food being prepared.

Back of house:

  • Conduct regular pantry checks to help you manage food effectively. Seek websites that provide shelf life information for different foods and offer storage recommendations.
  • Consider buying fresh ingredients such as vegetables or fruits locally and more frequently to prevent spoilage.
  • Be creative. Unused ingredients and trimmings from previous meal preps can be used to create new soups, sauces, and dessert toppings. Promote these creations as daily discounted lunch specials.
  • Use reusable hats for kitchen employees rather than disposable paper hats.
  • Set up a collection service for your waste grease, fat, and used cooking oil.

Donate:

After food waste reduction, feeding hungry people and animals are the next two most preferred options. Consider connecting with local charitable organizations or farms to donate unused food or food scraps.

Are you worried about liability from donating your food to food banks? In 1996, The U.S. Congress passed the “Good Samaritan Food Act” to encourage the donation of food to food banks and shelters while protecting donating organizations from liability.

Donating to food banks is not the only option to consider. With proper and safe handling, you may also be able to donate food scraps to farmers for animal feedstock. Be sure to check out the legal basics of feeding food scraps to animals from the EPA.

Compost:

Finally, composting is a great way to help dispose of wasted food. Right now, there is limited infrastructure for composting activities in San Antonio. However, there is equipment such as a food pulper that can be used to ground and compress food waste to reduce the total volume of the waste; it’s like a cardboard baler, but for food.

For more information on composting, visit the EPA composting page.